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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  7,350 ratings  ·  784 reviews
A brilliant and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Robert Graves, Augustus is a sweeping narrative that brings vividly to life a compelling cast of historical figures through their letters, dispatches, and memoirs.

A mere eighteen years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic. Surrounded b
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1972)
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John The different narrators make this book what it is. You hear the story of this young man through their viewpoints, prejudices, and anglings. Confusing…moreThe different narrators make this book what it is. You hear the story of this young man through their viewpoints, prejudices, and anglings. Confusing at first, the letters written by different people transcend how remarkable a person was the boy called Octavius.(less)

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4.20  · 
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 ·  7,350 ratings  ·  784 reviews

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How to describe this painstakingly detailed, compellingly readable, simply complex, fictionalised biography, that explores the high price of duty, and is set in ancient times but is painfully relevant in 2017? Not like that.

There are myriad perspectives: it’s like viewing the ancient world through a kaleidoscope or the facets of a gemstone.

Or maybe it’s more like a hall of mirrors and windows, where you’re barely sure which is which and what distortions there may be. Versailles, perhaps: anothe
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
Dalle note d'autore:
Alcuni errori di fatto, in questo libro, sono voluti. Ho modificato l’ordine di numerosi avvenimenti. Ho inventato là dove i dati storici sono incerti o incompleti. E ho creato alcuni personaggi cui la Storia non fa cenno… Tranne poche eccezioni, i documenti che formano questo romanzo sono inventati… Ma se in questo lavoro sono presenti delle verità, sono le verità della narrativa più che della Storia. Sarò grato a quei lettori che lo accoglieranno per qu
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who see beyond the mask
This is more than a lush recreation of the nuanced menace of diplomatic skirmishing and Machiavellian intrigue, public guilelessness and carnage that gave birth to the Roman Empire under the ruling of its first Emperor.
This is more than a walk through the path of history because it takes unusual detours of borrowed memories penned by secondary historical figures that surrounded Octavius Caesar Augustus.
Delivered in a non-chronological letters that carry moments of high pathos spanning over sixty
Lynne King
And yet a third perfect book by this inimitable author who was working at the very height of his powers. I now know that I will never again come across a book such as this. I actually didn’t want to finish it as I felt that I had to continue in this enthralling dream. What disturbs me, however, is the downside that when one has loved something/someone so much, those following, well to my mind anyway, will only be substitutes which in itself is rather a sad state of affairs.

As I read this book I
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“One does not deceive oneself about the consequences of one's acts; one deceives oneself about the ease with which one can live with those consequences.”
― John Williams, Augustus


John Williams read some Robert Graves and said, "Yeah, I got this Roman. I can do this." I'm trying to think of equivalent historical fiction that orbits the same level of prose mastery: Norman Mailer, Robert Graves, Hilary Mantel, E. L. Doctorow and a few others belong on this very short list.

There are some writers (l
I've never been particularly interested in political novels or had any great fascination with ancient Rome, but this beautifully written novel held me transfixed nonetheless. It's a cliché to say it "brings history alive," but it does indeed bring history alive. Told in epistolary form as a compendium of letters and journal entries by characters both integral and incidental, we get to know Octavius Caesar the August from the perspective of those who love him and of those who despise him, but we ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Williams' three novels are distinctly different from each other. Often, if you like one book by a specific author, it's safe to assume that if you pick up another, you will be served something similar - in topic, tone or language. But each of Williams' novels are - without compromise - true to their own, unique concept.

So is the case with Augustus. While Stoner is mostly a campus novel and Butcher's Crossing a western, Augustus is an epistolary novel on the rise and reign of Gaius Octavius,
Eirini Proikaki
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Μετά τον Στόουνερ,άλλο ένα υπέροχο αλλά και τόσο διαφορετικό βιβλίο απο τον Τζον Γουίλιαμς τον νέο μου λογοτεχνικό έρωτα.
Σπάνια διαβάζω δυο βιβλία απο τον ίδιο συγγραφέα σε τόσο σύντομο χρονικό διάστημα αλλά δεν μπόρεσα να αντισταθώ στη γοητεία της αρχαίας Ρώμης με την οποία ασχολείται ο Γουίλιαμς σε αυτό το βιβλίο και συγκεκριμένα με την γέννηση της Ρωμαϊκης Αυτοκρατορίας και την ζωή του πρώτου αυτοκράτορα Οκταβιανού.
Ο Ιούλιος Καίσαρας δολοφονείται κι εμείς παρακολουθούμε τα επακόλουθα μέσα απο
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Good historical fiction is some of the best fiction - this book didn't disappoint. Fans of Williams' Stoner and Butcher's Crossing will find plenty to love; the author's recognizable compact writing style and rich imagery are on display throughout this book.

A reader isn't required to have a vast knowledge of Roman history between 50 BC and 50 AD, but it certainly helps. Reading this book shortly after finishing Appian's Civil Wars was the right decision for me. Williams' particular talent allows
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, b-r-a-ce-2018

Μετά τον "Στόουνερ", δεν περίμενα κάτι σχεδόν το ίδιο σπουδαίο. Κι όμως, ο John Williams καταφέρνει και μ' αυτό να σε καθηλώσει. Παρ' ότι το θέμα δεν είναι στα ενδιαφέροντά μου, η ιδιαίτερη γραφή μου κράτησε το ενδιαφέρον ως την τελευταία σελίδα.
Μετά το "Στόουνερ" άλλο ένα καταπληκτικό βιβλίο του συγγραφέα. Αν και στην αρχή η ιστορία ήταν λίγο περίπλοκη, με το διάβασμα αποκτούσε ένα ρυθμό για να φτάσει στην κορύφωση στο τέλος με τον απολογισμό του αυτοκράτορα Αυγούστου. Απαραίτητο για κάθε φίλο του καλού βιβλίου ο οποίος διαβάζοντας το θα πρέπει να έχει δίπλα του ένα στυλό σημειώνοντας τα νοήματα της αφήγησης. Οπως π.χ.:

"Αν δεν τον διαφθείρει ο θαυμασμός των συνομηλίκων του, αγοριών και κοριτσιών, θα το επιτύχουν σίγουρα οι φιλοδοξίες τ
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
"Γιατί ένας λαός μπορεί να αντέξει απίστευτες και μαύρες και ατέλειωτες αποτυχίες χωρίς να σπάσει. Μα αν του δοθεί μια στιγμή ανάπαυλας και μια μικρή ελπίδα για το μέλλον, δεν θ'αντέξει την αναπάντεχη απώλειά της."

"Εγώ, ωστόσο, σαστίζω πάντα όταν μέσα στην άνεση της ειρήνης οι άνθρωποι αρχίζουν τους ύμνους και τις κατηγόριες. Τώρα απ' όποια μεριά κι αν γέρνει η κρίση τους μου φαίνεται άπρεπη - και μάλιστα στον ίδιο βαθμό. Γιατί αυτοί που κρίνουν έτσι, δεν το κάνουν επειδή τους νοιάζει το δ
Spencer Orey
I enjoyed this dense look into the life and legacy of Caesar Augustus and good leadership overall. As I read, it sent me off to look up related Roman-inspired factoids, which is a good sign I guess. The overall heavy message about the burdens of leadership and his sacrifice of his own personal life for his love of power and Rome was... a bit obvious? But really handled well. And it was fun to see the famous figures appear here and there and weigh in on issues. I actually didn't enjoy reading lar ...more
Σωτήρης  Αδαμαρέτσος
Μια μυθιστορία της εποχής και της ζωής του Οκταβιανου Καίσαρα μέσα από τις επιστολές, τα ημερολόγια και τις σημειώσεις προσώπων της εποχής. Το κείμενο ρέει εύκολα και η αφήγηση είναι ακριβής ιστορικά και σε πρόσωπα και καταστάσεις και χαρακτήρες. Ο Williams για άλλη μια φορά δίνει μια τίμια απεικόνιση ενός γεγονότος και ενός προσώπου, όχι φανταστικού όπως ο Στοουνερ. Ο τρόπος γραφής δεν βοηθάει την ταύτιση με πρόσωπα αλλά σίγουρα η εμφάνιση της κόρης του Ιουλίας, που είναι και το κομβικό πρόσωπο ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Augustus is, in my opinion, the best of Williams’s novels. Augustus was such an instrumental figure in Roman history, though he is often overlooked in popular memory in favour of the more turbulent and often shocking times that came before and after his reign of relative stability. But his story is truly remarkable: how did this unknown boy of nineteen, with little more than the promise of a name, manage to rise and overcome men with far more power and experience?

I think what makes this period
Vasilis Manias
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Δεν ξέρω ποιά είναι τα συστατικά που κάνουν ένα βιβλίο ξεχωριστό, λογικά κάθε αναγνώστης έχει τα δικά του ιδιαίτερα κριτήρια, αλλά επιτρέψτε μου να πω, ο Αύγουστος είναι ένα από τα σημαντικότερα ιστορικά μυθιστορήματα που γράφτηκαν ποτέ. Θές που έχω έναν έρωτα στη Ρώμη και στα μνημεία της; Θες που έχω άλλον έναν στο μύθο της Κλεοπάτρας και την Αίγυπτο; Ή στο τέλος τέλος, δείξτε μου έναν άνθρωπο που δεν τρελαίνεται για μια δυνατή ιστορία αγάπης. Γιατί μη σας ξενίζει ο τίτλος ή το οπισθόφ
Greg Brown
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
John Williams only wrote three books once he became a mature writer—his first he disowned—and they're all excellent. Unfortunately, this book is the last of the three I've read. There's a peculiar sadness when you finish the last book by one of your favorite deceased authors, the usual morose feeling of leaving a world only compounded by the knowledge you'll never again hear that voice for the first time. Kind of a bummer.

The first surprise of this book was John Williams ratcheting up the diffic
Katerina Charisi
Έχω διαβάσει πολλές φορές ότι η Ρωμαϊκή Αυτοκρατορία διαμόρφωσε τον κόσμο και συνεχίζει να τον διαμορφώνει μέχρι και σήμερα – το πόσο ακόμα, άγνωστο, πάντως σίγουρα πολύ. Το γεγονός όμως ότι τα βιβλία Ιστορίας είναι γενικώς βαρετά και πρέπει να έχεις πραγματική λόξα για να τα διαβάσεις, δε βοηθάει την κατάσταση. Αν και ο συγγραφέας στον πρόλογό του ξεκαθαρίζει πως πρόκειται για έργο φαντασίας και έτσι επιθυμεί κι ελπίζει να το διαβάσουν οι αναγνώστες του, ο Αύγουστος μπορεί να γεννήσει κάλλιστα ...more
James Ferrett
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“It is fortunate that youth never recognizes its ignorance, for if it did it would not find the courage to get the habit of endurance. It is perhaps an instinct of the blood and flesh which prevents this knowledge and allows the boy to become the man who will live to see the folly of his existence.”

Augustus by John Williams retells the history of Gaius Octavius Thurinus, a young Roman nobleman who was the named heir of Julius Caesar. Stepping into a world of assassination, corruption and war, we
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I decided upon giving Williams' epistolary fiction a four-star rating, because the elegant writing—which adheres to the classical form that it emulates to an impressive degree—is a pleasure to behold, and does an admirable job of situating a handful of important personages—mostly friends, family, or rivals of the titular empire founder—within the confines of the principal themes that the author wished to explore: the alienating and intoxicating aspects of power, whether in the arena of the polit ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it

Το 2018 φαίνεται πως θα είναι η χρονιά που θα γνωρίσω (και θα αγαπήσω) βιβλία που κάποτε δεν θα τα κοιτούσα καν. Για αυτό θα πρέπει να ευχαριστήσω το καλύτερο κομμάτι του εαυτού μου που με έπεισε να μην είμαι τόσο αφοριστική και να δώσω μια ευκαιρία στον John Williams. Πόσο χαίρομαι που εντέλει το έπιασα στα χέρια μου και πέρασα ένα δεκαήμερο απολαυστικής ανάγνωσης και ελπίζω να διαβάσω και τα υπόλοιπα βιβλία του σύντομα.

Ο «Αύγουστος» είναι ένα ιστορι
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, romanzi
Passione e poesia
Meraviglioso struggente ritratto di Augusto, l'imperatore e l'uomo.
Insolita la tecnica narrativa, ovvero una sorta di collazione delle fonti scritte, in questo caso interamente rimaneggiate o inventate: lettere, documenti, pagine di diario, che, oltre a scandire le varie tappe della carriera politica e della vita privata di Ottaviano, calano il lettore nel clima politico e culturale dell'epoca, dall'uccisione di Giulio Cesare nel 44 a.C. fino al 14 d.C., anno della morte di Aug
This is my third book by John Williams and it has once again blown me away.
All of this authors books are incredibly different but all are equally brilliant.

This one, told in epistiolary form in 3 parts. The first tells the story of Gaius Octavius who is destined to become Caesar Augustus the first Roman emperor. The second is mostly a journal by Julia, daughter of Augustus telling her story after she has been banished to an island for her adultery and the third is told by Augustus himself, it is
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, storica
“Vero poetico e vero storico.”

Si potrebbe parlare a lungo del vero poetico e vero storico manzoniano che ritroviamo pienamente in quest'opera ma, in realtà, la fluidità e la ricchezza della scrittura di Williams oltrepassano questo aspetto.
Ammetto che inizialmente faticavo a farmi coinvolgere, complice un pregiudizio sulla forma epistolare che consideravo un ostacolo. Invece, proprio questa struttura è consona a dipingere l'immagine di un personaggio come Ottaviano Cesare Augusto.
Un coro di
Κατερίνα Μαλακατέ

Πρόκειται για ένα πολυφωνικό, επιστολικό, ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα, εντυπωσιακό τόσο στη σύλληψη όσο και στην εκτέλεση. Αν και ο ίδιος ο συγγραφέας στην εισαγωγή λέει πως «αν υπάρχουν αλήθειες σε αυτό το έργο, είναι μάλλον οι αλήθειες της λογοτεχνίας παρά της Ιστορίας», ο Γουίλιαμς είναι πολύ προσεκτικός και χρησιμοποιεί τα ιστορικά πρόσωπα όπως τους πρέπει. Το κάθε πρόσωπο έχει τη δική του φωνή, τον τρόπο να εκφράζεται αλλά και να βλέπει τα πράγματα.

Αν και
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«...ο Αλέξανδρος ήταν τυχερός που πέθανε τόσο νέος, αν είχε ζήσει περισσότερο, θα διαπίστωνε πως, αν η κατάκτηση ενός ολοκλήρου κόσμου είναι τελικά μικρό πράγμα, η διακυβέρνηση του είναι οπωσδήποτε ακόμα μικρότερο.»
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
While I enjoyed this book, I probably should have read it rather than listening to the audiobook, which was difficult to follow at times. The story was told in the form of letters and journal entries, and out of chronological order. It was hard telling exactly where you were in the life of Augustus without being able to refer back to the headings of the chapters, which gave the date and the name of the character who was writing. I'm not sure I would have been able to follow it at all if I hadn't ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an epistolary which means that it is written entirely in letters. The focal point of these letters is Augustus and how he came to power in ancient Rome. It starts with the murder of Julius Cæsar in the Senate, and it follows Augustus as he grows up and becomes one of the biggest emperors of Rome.
I was very excited about this story, but admittedly I was also very sceptical about it being told through letters. However, I quickly realized that this narrative style appealed to me a lot
Dina S
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Μετά από ένα δεύτερο πέρασμα αλλάζω από 4 σε 5 αστέρια γιατί πρόκειται για αριστούργημα.
John Williams's Augustus is one of only four novels the author wrote. I have now read two of them, this one as well as Stoner. That leaves only Butcher's Crossing and an early effort from 1948 that Williams would rather forget called Nothing But the Night. If the two I have NOT read are anywhere near as good, Williams could be a candidate for the best American novelist in the Postwar Period.

There is little in common between Stoner -- about the life of a college professor at a Midwestern universi
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NYRB Classics: Augustus, by John Williams 7 77 Aug 22, 2014 01:42PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

John Edward Williams, Ph.D. (University of Missouri, 1954; M.A., University of Denver, 1950; B.A., U. of D., 1949), enlisted in the USAAF early in 1942, spending two and a half years as a sergeant in India and Burma. His first novel, Nothing But the Night, was published in 1948, and his first volume of poems, Th
“One does not deceive oneself about the consequences of one's acts; one deceives oneself about the ease with which one can live with those consequences.” 62 likes
“[...] it seems to me that the moralist is the most useless and contemptible of creatures. He is useless in that he would expend his energies upon making judgments rather than upon gaining knowledge, for the reason that judgment is easy and knowledge is difficult. He is contemptible in that his judgments reflect a vision of himself which in his ignorance and pride he would impose upon the world. I implore you, do not become a moralist; you will destroy your art and your mind.” 34 likes
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